5 essential steps for better real estate SEO
Your real estate website is the most versatile digital marketing tool at your disposal. Despite office hours, weekends, and holidays, it constantly works to attract potential homebuyers, apartment tenants, or those looking for commercial real estate by showcasing your listings and services.
But with 52% of potential homebuyers turning to the internet to find their dream home before they contact a realtor, you’ll want to have a website presence.
And even if your website does rank on the coveted first page of a Google search, it’s facing stiff competition when competing for clicks. A study conducted by SISTRIX found that the first organic listing on a search engine result page (SERP) receives 28.5% of the traffic and drops to 2.5% received by the tenth organic listing.
Search engine optimization (SEO) is the foundation for every aspect of your online marketing, and, more than ever, it is mission-critical to the success of your real estate business. Realtors must understand and implement basic real estate SEO practices to attract more potential homebuyers, tenants, or business owners to their website and convert them into leads.
Here are five essential steps you can take to improve your real estate SEO.
1. Conduct an SEO audit of your real estate website
The first step to improving your real estate SEO is to conduct an audit to measure your website’s health and performance. If you don’t know where your website is currently ranking, you won’t be able to tell if you’re improving.
Two of the most helpful tools in the process are Google Analytics and Google Search Console. Both tools allow you to do a deep dive into what is and isn’t working on your website, along with revealing any technical issues you need to address to improve your site’s performance.
Through Google Analytics, you can see how many visitors are landing on your website, which pages are your most popular, which pages lead to the most conversions, and how users navigate your site.
For an in-depth look at how to use Google Analytics, see this complete guide by the Search Engine Journal.
Google Search Console gives you insight into which keywords your website is ranking for (more on that below), your site’s average position on search engine rankings, and technical issues such as site loading speeds or broken pages.
It’s easy to get lost in all the data these tools provide, but a few key performance indicators (KPIs) and elements to be aware of are:
- Organic traffic: The number of visitors who are finding your site through search engines
- Bounce rate: The percentage of visitors who land on your site and quickly leave (typically because it wasn’t what they expected or wasn’t immediately helpful)
- Average time spent on page: The average amount of time visitors spend on any given page (higher numbers indicate more engaging website content)
- Page loading speed: How long it takes for your website to load on browsers and mobile devices
- Mobile usability: How easy (or difficult) it is to use your website on a mobile device
Once you understand how your website is currently performing, you’ll be able to set benchmarks to measure SEO growth and success.
2. Publish useful and comprehensive content that answers questions
What questions do your clients or prospects have? There are many questions, from questions about the home-buying process to questions from potential tenants or business owners looking for space to live or do business.
Home buyers How much does it cost me to hire a real-estate agent? How do I get a loan? When should I get a loan? Why do I need an appraisal?
How can I get the best deal on rent?
How do I find the perfect apartment in
Business Owners What will your broker service cost me? Which businesses have you successfully helped in the past? What is a tenant improvement allowance?
You've probably heard about keywords, and they are important place to start. Identify keywords people are using with some research (Google publishes monthly search volumes). Align contetn to the opportunities you find. Don't go overboard by writing the keyword over and over agai non your page. Make sure that's mentioned in the meta title, on-page title and naturally throughout the content in varied forms.
But which keywords should you choose?
Keywords such as “homes for sale” or “office space for rent” might get the most searches, but the competition will be high for these. These types of searches usually represent a local user intent in search results, so you'll see results for homes or offices in your area. You might want to make sure to list your properties in the large websites that rank here.
Choosing hyper-local keywords is an opportunity that usually has much less competition. You could create pages that help people find more information about very specfic areas or neighborhoods you serve. Use these pages to showcase your local knowledge, trends and market analysis.
Say you represent apartments in downtown Denver and searching for the best keywords to use. “Apartments for rent” attracts a high volume of search traffic but is also difficult to rank for. Downtown Denver has a several different areas, a few are LoDo, CBD, and Five Points. Create pages about these areas and highlight your apartments near them to attract a more relevant audience. Search rankings will be easier to gain when they are more specific than broad. Make sure you are providing value and answering questions people have, make the content useful (and delightful)!
Find hyper-local keywords using tools like Google Keyword Planner, SEMRush, or Ahrefs. Then place them in page titles, site URLs, your subheadings, and even your alternate image text to help Google pinpoint exactly what your apartment (or home) listings represent.
3. Set up a Google My Business page
A Google My Business (GMB) page places your real estate business on the map, helping your website list higher on the SERP when someone searches for local realtors and real estate agencies. It’s also free and can be set up in just a few minutes.
One caveat is, you'll get much better results with a physical address for your place of business (can't use a P.O. Box). You can still setup a home address, hide it from the public and set up a "service area" if you don't have an office address.
The greatest benefit of having a GMB page is that it can place your business on the first page of a local Google search — even if you haven’t optimized your website for specific real estate keywords.
A study conducted by BrightLocal shows that real estate businesses with a GMB listing were found around 500 times per month — 85% of those resulting from discovery searches (a Google search for an unspecified realtor) and 15% from direct traffic (a Google search for a specific realtor).
The most important thing when setting up your GMB page is NAP (name, address, and phone number) consistency. Should a visitor wish to contact you without visiting your website, it’s important that all of your contact information across the web is accurate and kept up to date.
For even greater SEO marketing insight, consider using a call tracking phone number in your GMB listing to measure your conversion rates more accurately.
4. Build up your website backlinks
Backlinks, or inbound links, play a large part in how Google and other search engines establish the credibility of your real estate website and services.
A backlink occurs when another website links to your website. The more credible the linking site, the more valuable the backlink you received and the more credibility Google ascribes to your website.
When monitoring how backlinks affect SEO rankings, Ahrefs found a direct correlation between the number of high-quality backlinks a website receives and its ranking in Google.
Consider the following ways to start building up backlinks for your real estate website:
- Connect your website to local directories such as Yelp, Yellow Pages, etc.
- Make sure your business is listed with your local chamber of commerce
- Register your business with the Better Business Bureau
- Become a member of The National Association of Realtors
- If previous clients and homebuyers have a website, ask them to leave a review and link to your real estate website
5. Create content and promote your real estate business on social media
Creating content and engaging with clients and potential buyers on social media sites like Facebook shows search engines that your website content is fresh and engaging.
Simply posting photos and comments about new listings in your area or using Facebook’s laser-targeted advertising platform can help spread the word about your real estate business and draw more attention and clicks to your website and listings. Additionally, Facebook Marketplace gives realtors the opportunity to post available homes, apartment rentals, office space leases, etc. for free, complete with location data, terms, and contact information.
Click here to learn more about how you can use Facebook to grow your real estate business.
You might also consider creating individual landing pages to showcase each of your property listings. Every page should include high-quality photos, well-written descriptions, virtual walkthroughs, and contact forms to capture lead information. Placing a trackable phone number on each landing page can also supercharge your marketing efforts and help you better understand your customer’s journey.
And finally, actively seek reviews and recommendations from happy homebuyers, apartment tenants, or brick-and-mortar business owners who found their dream location with your help. Facebook and GMB can easily capture these reviews and display them on your pages, simultaneously impressing potential homebuyers and increasing your website’s credibility.
Real estate SEO is powerful
Whether you’re a personal real estate broker with a handful of listings or a major commercial real estate broker, successful SEO can drive a lot of new business. Unlike Google or Facebook ads, a well-executed SEO plan can take time before showing results. But if you put these basics into practice and exercise patience, you’ll be greatly rewarded with consistent traffic to your website and property listings.